Jensen v. White Star Lines (c) Anderson Kill & Olick 1998
Second Officer Lightoller's Memo to the White Star's Lawyer 
Prepared at the request of the White Star Line Counsel
Attorney Client Privilege

You asked me to write down what happened the night the Titanic sank.

    I came on duty that night promptly at 6:00 p.m. for my watch which ends at 10:00 p.m.  Around 7:30, when I finished my dinner, I noticed that the temperature had quickly dropped since I began my watch.  However, the sky was still clear and the sea calm.  Captain E.J. Smith remarked how cold it had gotten when he arrived on the bridge at 9:00 p.m.  He told me to increase to 22 1/2  knots so that we could set the record.  The day before we had made 536 miles.
    The Captain and I discussed how navigating through this area was the most crucial part of the trip.  Since we had received only one isolated ice warning from the ship, Caronia,  I believed that there was very little ice around.  After the Titanic sank, I learned we had received ice warnings from three other ships. I thought that if there were any icebergs in the vicinity, the light reflecting from the stars would allow us to see them.  The Captain left the bridge around 9:20 p.m.

    I instructed Sixth Officer Moody to let the other men know in subsequent watches that they should be on the look out for small chunks of ice, since at that time I only knew of one report of ice.  By 10:00 p.m. my shift was over, so I gave First Officer Murdoch the ship's course and speed.  I also mentioned the possibility of ice being in the area.  I went to bed after completing my round of the ship.  Around 11:40 p.m., as I was just closing my eyes, I felt a vibration.  I ran to the deck to see what had happened.  Although we didn't see anything, both Third Officer Pitman and I agreed that the ship had hit something.

    Around midnight, I was informed that F Deck by the mail room had been flooded.  As soon as Captain Smith gave me the orders, I began loading women and children on to life boats. I remember seeing a passenger on the davits untangling lines out of the corner of my eye.  I called over to him and said it was not necessary that he help us.  He responded that Officer Moody asked if him to work on these lines while Moody worked on the lines on the other end of the life boat.  When we were done loading Life Boat 12, he jumped down and asked me if I had seen his fiancé, Carla Jensen.  I smelled alcohol on his breath and asked him if he had been drinking.  He told me his birthday was the next day, April 15th, and that he had had two drinks with his fiance's relatives to celebrate.  I corrected him and said that it was already his birthday, since it was now after midnight.  I then asked what class his  fiancé was in and he said third class.  I told him that I didn't know many passengers in third class, but that he'd better go look for her.  As we were loading Life Boat 16, I saw Jensen kiss what I presumed to be his fiancé and help her into the boat.

      I then went to assemble Collapsible Boat D.  Because of the way the passengers began to act, several of the officers armed themselves with guns and encircled the boat, allowing only women to take seats.  A Swedish military attaché named Bjornstrom-Steffansson tried to help control the crowd.  But I could see that he was only interested in remaining near one of the last remaining life boats, because he kept looking over his shoulder at the boat.  Jensen returned and began assisting us by controlling the crowd.  I told him once again that we didn't need his help, but he did seem to be doing a good job.

I could tell that although Jensen wasn't the type to start a fight, he certainly wouldn't back down from one -- and I think the passengers knew that.  As soon as it appeared there weren't anymore women to put on the boat, we decided to allow some of the men to get in, so I told Jensen to get aboard the boat.  Just after Jensen got in, more women showed up, so I told everyone in Boat D to make room.  There was a murmuring in the crowd as the men not on the boat realized there was still space in Boat D. When I said "make room" Jensen and most of the other men jumped out and Jensen helped calm the crowd.  I turned and ordered the men to start lowering the boat immediately so it wouldn't tip over and also because the lines were likely to tangle as the deck tilted more sharply.  As the boat was lowered past A Deck, two men jumped on to the boat from the A Deck promenade.   I sent two crewmen to follow the boat down. When I turned around, I did not see Jensen anywhere.

     The water began to rise rapidly, so I jumped on to the roof of the officers quarters to free Collapsible Boat B.  The deck was now tilting steeply, so once the ropes were partially sawed through, Boat B broke away and flew into the water.  One of the boats funnels started to fall towards me so I jumped from the roof into the very icy water and ended up near a grate over an engine room air intake.  The force of the water filling the air intake sucked me down against the grate as the boat went under.  Luckily the cold water rushing through the grate hit the boilers which blew and blasted me back to the surface.  I swam to Collapsible Boat B which was upside down and pulled myself on top of it with many other men, where most of us remained until the Cunard Lines' Carpathia arrived and took us aboard in the morning.  I believe I was the last man pulled from the water alive.


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